the rebel’s republic


As the drinking commenced one cold January evening in the Bosnian countryside, President Vinko Vukoja, of the Hajdučka Republika of Mijat Tomić, or Rebel’s Republic, burst into a passionate ganga, a guttural, throbbing yodel sung in rural Croatia and Herzegovina. On the final note, his ministers joined their ruddy leader in a reverberating wail. This is the anthem of their young nation: “Sveti Ante platiti ću ti misu / samo reci koji naši nisu.” (“I will pay for your mass at Sveti Ante Church / just say who is not one of us.”)

I asked what this song meant. The men explained that with ganga, the lyrics aren’t too important—sometimes the words even change; it’s the spirit and communal reverie that matter most. But the lyrics sung by the President that night are printed on this diminutive breakaway state’s currency, called the kubura. The money appears quite official, bearing three authentications: the signatures of the President, Minister of Defense, and Governor, as well as the national seal—a bust of Mijat Tomić, a seventeenth-century Croat folk hero who fought Ottoman rule, with two kubura guns (the currency’s namesake antique pistols) crossed beneath him, a red and white checkerboard above his right shoulder. The flip side of each bill shows a dozen cars parked haphazardly in front of a rendering of the pyramidal hotel that doubles as the government seat and is owned by President Vukoja.

more from Triple Canopy here.